The Beacon

Youth Take Lead in School Community

Lori Vang, Reporter

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Harding Senior High School has plenty of opportunities for students to speak up, take action and show their school spirit.

Shaun Parks, Student Council advisor and physical science teacher, said there are many student leaders in Student Council. Student Council handles school dances, Pepfest, spirit weeks and many more events that represent the spirit of the students of Harding Senior High. “I believe the purpose of student council is to provide opportunities for all the students to get together and help the community environment,” Mr. Parks said.

Maureen Rueber is the Knight Crew Co-Advisor and also a TOSA (Teacher on Special Assignment). Knight Crew leaders, students in the higher grades, introduce new freshmen to high school. Most freshmen are not used to being with 200 times the number of people they see in eighth grade. Every year, Knight Crew leaders set up a freshman retreat out on the football field. By working through obstacles together, advisories grow connections. “It’s a way that we hope that the juniors and seniors who are Knight Crew leaders help make them transition easier by making them feel welcomed,” said Ms. Rueber.

Jamie Shady, National Honors Society Advisor and head counselor at the CCC, said NHS is made up of four pillars. “We have the leadership pillar, character pillar, scholarship pillar, service pillar,” he said. “It’s these four equal pillars that are all different parts. We have students in each of those pillars that have focuses on different things. They do different sorts of projects in the building that focuses around things.” Everyone in NHS has to do at least 50 hours of community service, Mr. Shady added.

Most student leaders have the instinct. Teachers observe if the student has potential to be a student leader. Parks observes his science students. “I try to give them responsibilities — roles, push them out of their comfort zone,” he said.  

Ms. Rueber and Mr. Shady aren’t just teachers, but they are advisors. The leadership programs in Harding give students opportunities to sign up and give their potential a try. Most of the time, there are students who are trying to find an opportunity to help their school community or climate. “I just try to facilitate their thoughts around the things that they see that are necessary for the school climate,” Mr. Parks said. “School climate is very important. And what things are missing, what things still need to be added.”

Sometimes, students need a push. Advisors are there to give it to them. “It’s very important, because not only is it important for the community of the school but because also, the students then have more options or …. experience taking on the leadership role,” Mr. Shady said.

But it’s hard to give them that opportunity when they don’t give themselves the push. “Some kids are born leaders, but other kids don’t realize that they have these leadership qualities in themselves,” Ms. Rueber said. “So by giving them opportunities to lead, that really is the best way to have them become leaders.”

When youth have a chance to be leaders, they gain a voice. “I love the fact that the youth take on leadership roles,” Mr. Parks said. “Because we are… leaders of the future. The youth are the leaders of the future, especially in high school, you guys are going to learn and be led by each other, far more easily than you’re going to be learn and led by us (teachers).”

The fact that there are so many doors open for youth to speak out their ideas is fantastic, Ms. Rueber said. “I think it’s important that it’s more of a joint effort. The reason I say that is because sometimes youth have fabulous ideas and not sure how to carry them out.”

Sometimes people who disagree with youth shut their voices out, because they think that what they’re saying now is really unnecessary. “Those things have the tendency to be kind of silencing students,” Mr. Parks said. “I know sometimes  we get concerned about our own priorities. And we personalize things as adults. And I think that we have to be very, very careful of that, and make sure that we’re not personalizing, so that we can allow the students to be — well, just amazingly large focus of growth.”

Sometimes people think youth shouldn’t be acting like adults. “That’s because they’re afraid,” Ms. Rueber said. “They don’t understand kids. I think that that’s a wonderful gift that every high school teacher has given, is the opportunity to really understand students and the important of students.”

We should never shut them out, she added. “You may not always agree with them, but many times there’s new and innovative ideas that they have that as an adult, I’ve never thought of.”

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Youth Take Lead in School Community